Coming from a company that thrives off of innovation and getting ahead, back in 2014, QVC decided to buy a social platform, named toGather, from a company based out of California once named Oodle. Not only did they consider toGather a huge business priority, they created an extension to the social team that would include two managers and a social coordinator. My first post-college job was the coordinator position, where I learned project management with very little money at it’s finest. This new platform was built out in the offices of California and once QVC purchased it, the platform was eventually connected to our e-commerce site and connected to products that QVC sold.
Let’s talk about the logistics of the platform. At the time, social was becoming extremely popular in retail. Companies were still trying to figure out how social media could influence and help sell their products, in a seamless way. There was not another platform that would allow customers to influence one another, talk about their favorite products, and then shop right there in the moment, without another step to purchase. QVC thought that this would be the breakthrough in online shopping where customers could “like” their favorite products; create their own boards, save recipes, etc. Little did we know at the time, it’s difficult to teach customers something new, especially customers that already knew and loved QVC. They were stuck in their ways. However, this was a time for QVC to be innovative and agile, something they were longing for.
There were many problems with the launch of toGather. With little budget, and the project managers on the other side of the country, it was hard to stay on the same schedules. The business of QVC had a different timeline, than did the company that built toGather. With priorities constantly changing, toGather was typically put on the back burner. When there was an immediate problem with the site, QVC’s internal IT team did not know how to re-build the platform, causing a lot of stress and difficulties within the teams. Often times, we’d have to make sure we were on California time when launching a sweepstakes, etc. to make sure that the other team members could fix IT issues once the sweeps went live. (A lot of times the site would crash or pieces of the site would get stuck and not move).
After realizing the role of social was evolving and new tools were coming out that were less time consuming and probably expensive, QVC let go of toGather, leaving other teams with less money and more confusion than ever. How do you just get rid of an extension of your e-commerce site in a way where customers aren’t affected? If we did want to keep the site around, our very own IT team had to re-build the entire platform, something that they did not have the bandwidth or time to do. So what happened? It slowly disappeared, got removed from the site, and customers simply just forgot about it.
I had to tell this story after learning about failed IT projects. This one in particular left me without my job (luckily I got a new one within the company) but it took QVC astray from their path into a project that shouldn’t have been a main priority.